Crappie are freshwater fish that are abundant in number, easy to catch and make a delicious meal. Two common types of crappie are the black and white crappie that often seen together in several bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. Also known as panfish, the white crappie has more dark spots on each side with around eight spines on the dorsal fin while white crappies have six. Crappies usually live in clear lakes with fair amount of vegetation, in less murky, slow moving rivers. They prefer the cold temperature of water of about fifty to seventy five degrees, extroverted and frequently travel as a school, which makes it easier for them to get caught. They feed on small fishes, crustaceans and insects, growing to a length of an average of eight inches. They are found suspended in midwater so knowing the right depth is crucial.
The black crappie has a silver green to yellow color, with large dorsal and anal fins. Its physical characteristics include big dark spots on the sides, more frequent in number towards the back and fins, compacted bodies with small heads and an arched back, a big jaw extending under the eye. The black crappie may also be known as the speckled perch, specks, papermouth, bachelor perch, calico bass, strawberry bass and white perch, frequently seen in ponds and major lakes. As with the white crappie, they also flourish in clear natural lakes, outgoing, and travel in schools. They spawn in colonies during February to April, in water temperatures of 62 to 65 degrees.
When fishing for crappie, remember that crappie can see colors easily thus the use of colorful lures during fishing. Since the water filters colors out of light, water differs in color in varying depths. Because of this principle, red lures are to be used in water with the lowest depth, orange in the next level, then yellow, green, and blue at the highest depth. Black is good also in the deepest water while white is fine in all depths since it reflects light. Water clarity and light also play a role in determining which lure to use. If the lure is not noticed by the fish, then it may be time to change it.
The temperature of the water also determines the outcome of crappie fishing. It has been seen in some studies that low water temperature enhances the sense of sight in fishes. Since the crappies mainly use their vision to hunt, their vision is made clearer in colder water temperature since it helps the cells in the eyes of the fish to function better. This means that the lures used should be reduced in size and fishing line used should be a lighter monofilament or fluorocarbon line since the crappies will be able to see them.
The success of your fishing also depends on the activity level of the crappie since it will dictate its reaction to your use of lures. Lively crappie will most probably attack lures that are distinct against the background color of water and structures and lures that are exhibit much movement. The less lively ones will attack those lures that blend in the background color and have less movement since it will think it as something alive and not part of the background.
There is no exact rule on which lure to use and how to catch crappie. It all depends on how you interpret the levels of light, water depth and clarity and temperature. It is a trial and error thing, wherein if the first attempt does not work, try something else. Maybe then, you will get it right.
Crappie Fishing Tackle
Crappie are found in thousands of lakes and rivers across the U.S.They're easy enough to catch and will provide a relaxing day of bobber fishing with the kids. They put up a decent fight and are excellent on the dinner table. Another nice thing is that you don't need a lot of expensive gear to catch them. Just a rod, reel, hooks and jigs, bobbers, sinkers, and bait.
Rod: A 6' or 7' light or ultra-light spinning rod will do. There are specialized crappie poles measuring 12' to over 20'. Those offer increased sensitivity and the ability to drop bait into those distant or hard to reach places. While OK for a 1 lber., they can be difficult to manage if you hook into a 2-3 lber., or bass. As a kid, I had a cane pole which are still made.
Reel: Spinning reels are probably the best choice. They are easy to use and are sensitive. Spin-casters are probably easier to teach kids on.
Line: 4-8 lb. test mono is good. The fish aren't monsters, so you don't need a heavy line. Make sure to use a good tough line, because you'll be fishing tough areas. Fallen trees, stumps, and the like.
Hooks: I like the long shanked, gold colored, light-wire type. Sizes 8 or 6 for live bait and a little larger for plastics. Some times as large as 1/0 or 2/0. The light-wire will Usually bend enough to free you from any snags, and do the least amount of damage to the minnows.
Jigs: An assortment of tube jigs, ballheads, marabous, ice-jigs, etc. Normal sizes used are from 1/64 to 1/8th. ounce. 1/32 and 1/16 oz. seem to be the most productive. Look for long shanks and a wide gap so you will have enough room left after baiting to hook the fish. Tube and curly-tail jig heads allow you to change colors without having to retie everytime. In summertime, try using small jigging spoons to get down into deep holes and structure.
Bobbers: Slip bobbers are the choice way to go. With them you can cast your the line and still reach the depths you want. Regular and pegged floats work well too. Make sure to bring stops and beads for slip bobbering.
Snap Swivel: This will reduce line twist. Ball bearing are the best.
Sinkers: Split-shot.Just enough to hold the bobber up straight.
Bait: For live bait, minnows ( 1-2" long), worms, and grubs.Just try to match available forage.
For plastics, curly tails, tubes, twisters, worms, grubs, you get the picture.
These fish can also be caught casting and trolling. Small minnow jerkbaits are good for locating suspended schools. There are many types available including count-down kinds. I like to bring some safety-pin style spinners, add the jig to it for a little extra flash and vibration in murky waters.